Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Da Capo: Starting the “Dance” All Over
Having only just finished the twelfth and final novel in Anthony Powell’s cycle “A Dance to the Music of Time,” I’ve now read the first volume, A Question of Upbringing (left), all over again and have plunged into the second, A Buyer’s Market.
I figure that if I re-read one book a month, I can redance the whole series in 2013. It’s January and I’m already well into volume 2.
Part of it, I think, is a desire to take my mind and heart off the emotionally draining experience of writing a memoir about the biggest questions in my life. Part of it is taking my mind off other things, like even the “crisis” now on in our parish. Part of it is the pride and vanity of taking on sentences like this one and smiling to myself as if to say, Yeah I get that:
“Short explained that Sillery’s parties had for years played an established rôle in the life of the university; and that the staleness of the rock-buns, which formed a cardinal element of these at-homes, had become so hackneyed a subject for academical humour that even Sillery himself would sometimes refer to the perennially unpalatable essence of these fossils salvaged from some forgotten cake-world.”
Those who know something about me and my background might snark that I am attracted to this sophisticated tale of upper-crust “public school boys” grown to manhood and beyond, a cycle that begins with four friends at an Eton-like establishment and follows their dance through life while more than 300 subsidiary characters enter and exit to the tune of Time’s lyre. (You see, you can’t read Powell without picking up some of his preciousness.)
Well, snark away.
Really that’s not why I am re-reading from the beginning—while simultaneously listening to the novels courtesy of Audible. (I s*** you not.)
I think that for once in each person’s life he or she should devote as much time, relatively speaking, to reading something as the author devoted to writing it. Powell wrote the “Dance” over a twenty-five year period, roughly the first twenty-five years of my life, 1951–1975. I was only tipped off to his work however in recent years when I began exchanging notes with a book-business friend about our “favorite long novel.”
I said Infinite Jest.
He said “A Dance to the Music of Time.”
I said, what?
Of course, I had to find out what that was.
So now I’m reading, or dancing, once around again, twice if you count listening. And I will be blogging about the dance as I go.
You can read or ignore and snark at will, but I suggest you at least do this one thing: Plunge deeply into some book or books that you love. Read them several times. There is a rich joy here that Evelyn Wood never dreamed of.